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The Issue

The Proposed Parking Lot
UNCA is growing. In the last decade, the university has experienced a 16% increase in enrollment and 50% increase in freshman enrollment. Quite simply, there is less and less space for students to park their cars. This fall, plans to construct new buildings on two existing parking lots has complicated the parking delimma. To accommodate the cars of incoming freshmen, UNCA has proposed building a 300-space parking lot on 2.5 acres of white pine forest as a quick-fix to their escalating parking problem.

Community Opposition
The proposed parking lot project seems out of character for a university that prides itself on environmental stewardship and community leadership. Citizens were stunned to learn that the plan had been proposed without any input from the community that uses and loves this forest. As a result, two public forums were held on UNCA’s campus where over 250 students, faculty, neighbors and citizens voiced their concerns about the plan and offered an extensive list of alternatives for UNCA to consider. Friends of the UNCA Urban Forest was established to represent the voices opposing the destruction of the forest and advocating sustainable, alternative solutions.

The Forest
The UNCA Urban Forest is a green oasis in the middle of the city that serves as a beloved recreation area for hikers, bikers, runners, dog-walkers, and nature lovers. Countless students and faculty use the land, whether as an outdoor biology classroom or a track team training course. The state-owned forest is one of the best natural features of the UNCA campus and the most valued urban forest among Asheville residents.

Why It’s Worth Preserving
The mature white pine trees in this section of the forest offer more than a shady walk in the woods. Clearing even 2.5 acres for a parking lot would permanently damage the remaining native hardwood forest’s slow but significant progress toward ecological recovery. Furthermore, in a region of very poor air quality, these trees absorb toxic auto emissions while releasing oxygen and act as natural water filters in this watershed. For neighborhood residents, the forest serves as a "green screen" that reduces noise and "heat-island" effect in a high-traffic area. As one of the last and largest tracts of in-tact forest within the city limits, the forest also provides vital natural habitat for native songbirds, wildflowers, and countless other species impacted by urban sprawl and increasingly fragmented habitat.

Get Involved
There are better alternatives that should be explored, and our campaign is actively working to bring these sustainable solutions to the forefront. You can join Friends of the UNCA Urban Forest by signing our petition and taking action.

Proposed area for parking lot just off WT Weaver Boulevard, at the entrance to the Forest Service Research Station.
Map not to scale.
Friends of the UNCA Urban Forest - friends@uncaforest.org